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I have only studied German for a few weeks. When I use various dictionaries, I noticed that there is a Plural 1 and Plural 2 as can be seen for Pizza in the table below.

          | Singular  | Plural 1   | Plural 2
Nominativ | die Pizza | die Pizzas | die Pizzen

Which one is to be used?

  • 3
    Both are correct. Use the one you prefer. – Chieron Sep 30 '16 at 12:53
  • Die Nummerierung hat keine Bedeutung derart, dass mal dieser, mal jener richtig ist. – user unknown Sep 30 '16 at 13:30
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If there are two plural forms of a noun, then usually both can be used in German.

It depends on your personal preference which one to use, both will be understood.

Some words in German have even three different plural forms as can be read here at Duden. However: not all of them are used equally often.

Here are examples from the link above:

der Bonus – die Bonus/Bonusse/Boni
der Sozius – die Sozien/Sozii/Soziusse
das Konto – die Konten/Kontos/Konti
das Aroma – die Aromas/Aromen/Aromata

BUT: There are — as was stated by Jan in the comments — also special plural forms which indeed have a different meaning. One can be found in this wiki article about plural:

Wort has two plural forms: Wörter in this case stands for the number of words in a sentence (simple count) whereas Worte means the real statement made.

  • 2
    Other example: Das Schild (sign) => Die Schilder, but Der Schild (shield) => Die Schilde. However, that's not one noun that has different plural forms; it's two different nouns that happen to have the same singular spelling. – Guntram Blohm supports Monica Sep 30 '16 at 14:56
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There aren’t that many words that have two different plural forms. Most of these are loanwords, often from Latin or its descendent languages.

For loanwords, the first stage of loanword incorporation into German is to leave it as it is and to form a plural by simply adding an s. (For loanwords that end in -s, things get difficult and different.) Thus, Pizzas was the earlier way to pluralise Pizza in German.

As loanwords get more and more familiar, they are often more formally incorporated into grammar rules. In German, the most typical plural endings of native words are -e, -er and -en and Pizza fits with the -en type so Pizzen later appeared. Note that neither of these is correct in Italian where pizze is the only acceptable plural.

For most of these loanwords with multiple plural forms, it does not matter which form you use. Both zwei Pizzen and zwei Pizzas are perfectly acceptable and there is no difference between the two. By the way: some dictionaries may note the plurals in a different order; that is often a clear argument for them being equivalent.

Sometimes, even native German words have two different plural forms, and that is where you want to be careful. For example, Wort has both the plural Wörter and Worte. These cannot be used interchangeably: Wörter signifies a number of letter clusters separated by spaces while Worte is a collection of what somebody said.

Unter den Worten Jesu sticht besonders die Bergpredigt hervor.

Der vorige Satz hat neun Wörter.

As mentioned, this typically only applies to native words, i.e. non-loanwords.

  • Actually, die Pizze is not uncommon in spoken German (at least among people who know the plural in Italian for one reason or another), either, in my experience. – O. R. Mapper Sep 30 '16 at 21:55
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Basically there's no preference of one over the other.
However it may depend on the region and/or other factors which form is more commonly used.
Looking in older dictionaries, you may often find only one form, where today there are two or even three.
My experience:
The new forms are often seen wrong or "less educated" than the old ones by people who have learned only the "old" form.
Regarding your example "Pizza", the plural "Pizzen" is really used much more regularly by people who are "better educated" - or at least feel so.
"Pizzas", i.e. the very simple way of just adding 's' to get the plural is used by more "simple", but also by more pragmatic persons who just don't care.
It may be different in other regions.

  • The older form should be Pizzas. – Jan Sep 30 '16 at 13:43
  • @Jan: You're right. This example regarding old and new may be irritating, but regarding "less" and "better" educated it's true - at least among people I know. The thinking of the "Pizzen" users may be "a foreign word can't have such a simple plural form!". I'm wondering if they will ever create a new plural for "Handy" ;-) – mic Sep 30 '16 at 13:52
  • I don’t think Handy will ever get a different form … I can’t think of a native word ending in /i/ that one could use as a basis. But maybe I’ll be surprised by language development in a few years ;) – Jan Sep 30 '16 at 13:58
  • @Jan Handys is a perfectly fine German plural for a word ending in a vowel. The spelling with implied English pronunciation is more anomal and could be normalized ("Hendi" urgh) – Chieron Sep 30 '16 at 15:04
  • @Chieron Yes, I often write Händie. And my point was indeed that I don’t think any other form would be likely. – Jan Sep 30 '16 at 15:35

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